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Here is something I do not remember ever seeing before to call out a change in traffic regulations: a NEW sign pointing out a recently-installed stop sign at a street intersection.

Change management strategy and pointing out what is nw

I noticed the sign, on Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri, as we drove to an after-mass breakfast one Sunday. While I’d never paid attention to the absence of a stop sign at the intersection pictured in the photo, I guess one wasn’t there previously.

The NEW sign to point out the new stop sign is a wonderful reminder of something that is easy to overlook in a change management strategy. Whenever you anticipate and implement change, consider ways to highlight the change for audience members. Through doing this, people impacted by the change can perform as well as possible, as soon as possible.

6 Questions to Highlight the New from Change Management Strategy

How do you identify opportunities to ensure your change management strategy and support for high performance align?

Use this list to identify instances where you are:

  1. Changing a situation with which people are very familiar
  2. Creating an unusual or unexpected condition
  3. Breaking a pattern
  4. Varying a routine that people are in
  5. Creating a situation which now has potentially high non-performance impacts
  6. Creating a situation with new risks from non-performance

There are more situations where you need to account for supporting audience member performance. These six are top-of-mind because each one could apply to the new stop sign.

So, whenever you start changing things, make sure you do everything reasonable (or maybe even everything possible) to ensure your change management strategy is not the cause of suddenly reduced performance. – Mike Brown

What’s Your Implementation Strategy for Uncertain Times?

Things aren’t getting saner and more calm. Are you ready to pursue an implementation strategy that works in uncharted waters?

The Brainzooming eBook 4 Strategies for Implementing in Uncertain Times will help you examine your strategy foundation, insights, profitability drivers, and decision making processes when few things ahead are clear. We share suggestions on:

  • Using your organization’s core purpose to shape decisions when things are changing
  • Reaching out to employees with valuable insights into what to watch out for and what to expect
  • Sharpening your command of cost and profit levers in your organization
  • Implementing processes to focus and sharpen decision making

4 Strategies for Implementing in Uncertain Times is a FREE, quick read that will pay dividends for you today and in the uncertain times ahead.
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What are all the change management strategy roles a change agent plays?

My answers to that question grew recently because of an experience with a client developing its future vision.

We were working with an organization on its future vision while facilitating its strategic planning process. The organization’s leaders, and many of the team, have been in place for a long time, limiting the collective view of how other organization’s do things in bold, innovative, and different ways.

As we worked on strategic thinking exercises to explore the company’s future vision and user experience, the change management strategy vocabulary the group used was conventional, unemotional, and lacking innovative thinking. Despite the static language, strategic conversations with the team suggested they possessed a legitimate interest in pursuing innovative strategies.

Innovation Vocabulary and Change Management Strategy

change-management-strategy

Later in the strategic planning workshop, we used a collaging exercise as another way to help the team express its vision for the organization. In the exercise, the group cut words and images from magazines to express their depictions of various strategic concepts. We had selected specific magazines to use in the exercise that would stretch how the organization thought about itself and its clients. With a bolder innovation vocabulary than they possessed on their own, they did an incredibly strong job of articulating an innovative future vision.

Reflecting on the difference between the group members working from their own language and working from the innovation language in the magazines, the difference was apparent: they didn’t have their own vocabulary for major change, so they struggled to express their aspirations. When we provided a bigger innovation vocabulary, they could paint a bigger, bolder vision for their future and the change management strategy involved.

That’s when it became clear that another thing a change agent needs to do is make sure his or her organization has the innovation vocabulary to describe the degree of change management needed to realize a bold future. An organization trying to transform likely needs an external change agent with an outside perspective to provide a new vocabulary for innovation.

Lesson learned.  We’re developing new ways to immerse our client’s organization in all the innovation vocabulary they need for the change management strategy task ahead.

Want to learn more about that process? Contact us, and let’s talk about creating major change within your organization! – Mike Brown

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Create the Vision to Align and Engage Your Team!

Big strategy statements shaping your organization needn’t be complicated. They should use simple, understandable, and straightforward language to invite and excite your team to be part of the vision.

Our free “Big Strategy Statements” eBook lays out an approach to collaboratively develop smart, strategic directions that improve results!


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We’ve written a tremendous amount about change and change management strategy since the Brainzooming blog’s inception.

Just HOW MUCH have we written on change management strategy?

Well, to identify the articles listed here, a search for “change” on the blog yielded eighty-six PAGES of articles. I reviewed all eighty-six pages to develop our change management strategy primer.

35 Articles on Change Management Strategy in a Change Agent Role

If you’re trying to determine, implement, or refine a change management strategy, especially in an organization resistant to change, these articles will take you through diagnostics, strategy planning, and implementation approaches to carry out your change agent role.

New-Sheriff

Determining the Issues and Options for a Change Management Strategy

Confronting Individuals’ Change Challenges

Planning a Strategy in the Change Agent Role

Dealing with Change Management Strategy Barriers

Creating Change with Less Leadership and Information than You’d Like

 

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Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise eBook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

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One way to deal with a common innovation strategy barrier – fear of change and new ideas – is to disguise new ideas as your team develops and implements them.

Yes, you got that right.

If your organization or other important audiences that will feel the impact of your new ideas truly fear change, it may be best to make your ideas appear less new, less frightening, and less like change than they might normally seem.

Innovation-Strategy-Disguise

Innovation Strategy in Disguise

For a quick innovation strategy inspiration along these lines, this video is an example of doing something that doesn’t fit, but making it seems as if it does.

An Innovator’s Prayer for Humility

As an innovation leader, pursuing an innovation strategy in disguise requires a different perspective. Thinking further about the leadership qualities it takes to successfully engage an innovation strategy in disguise reminded me of a litany of humility I read frequently. It seeks help relinquishing our desires for the things most of us want.

Using the litany of humility as an inspiration, here is an Innovator’s Prayer for Humility to gain the perspectives to make successful change happen without seeking the notoriety and credit for it.

  1. Give us the purity of motive that the new ideas and innovations we want to pursue are truly for the benefit of customers and the organization.
  2. Give us the ability to identify the people and resources we will need to create change.
  3. Reduce our need for credit for generating new ideas and moving them forward.
  4. Reduce our need for overt direction so we can imagine and improvise the needed changes without asking for permission or guidance.
  5. Give us the energy to work early and late hours when fewer people are liable to pay attention to our efforts.
  6. Reduce our organizational visibility to allow us to make progress without calling unnecessary attention to our work.
  7. Give us the foresight to move forward with needed changes that take a long time to implement because we are innovating unconventionally.
  8. Increase our skills in innovating through trial and error, real-time learning, and integrating our tough lessons into future success.
  9. Increase the opportunity for others to see the innovation as their own in order to take credit for and support its success.
  10. Give us patience to wait without comment if people never notice new ideas as their own.
  11. Reduce our need to call attention to and seek credit for the innovation our team accomplished.
  12. Give us a sense of personal consolation if people never notice that new ideas have changed things.

You may think this innovation strategy is nuts. Trust me though: it can work.

Sometimes the only way to make positive change happen is to make it happen WITHOUT calling attention to what you are doing. While we have done this successfully as an innovation strategy, it takes a different mindset to do it with honest motives and a willingness to abandon your need for others celebrating you for innovating once it is successful.

Call this a prayer or call it a checklist for an innovation strategy in disguise. Either way, if you are trying to hide innovation to be able to innovate, these are twelve things to pave the way for it happening!

Are you encountering innovation barriers in your organization? Here is help!

Innovation-Strategy-eBooks

If you are facing innovation barriers in your organization relative to the fear of change, scarce resources, limited perspectives, an overly-internal focus, or other innovation challenges, we have free Brainzooming eBooks available to help navigate around barriers to boost innovation! – Mike Brown

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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations innovate successfully by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Contact us at [email protected] or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand’s innovation strategy and implementation success.

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Devising and implementing an innovation strategy seems as if it SHOULD be easier in certain business environments. For instance, companies depending on innovative products and services as a main driver of customer brand value might give innovation strategy a higher priority. One might also suspect the change management related to innovation strategy would be easier at a place such as Disney; heck, Disney has Imagineers!

A recent Fast Company article suggests, however, that the innovation strategy and change management struggles for the new guest experience at Disney are similar to those at less glitzy brands. Our friends at Armada Executive Intelligence recapped the Fast Company article in their “Inside the Executive Suite” weekly feature, highlighting four change management struggles with a major guest experience innovation strategy at Disney. Here’s the “Inside the Executive Suite” recap:

Innovation Strategy – 4 Change Management Struggles at Disney

The new Fast Company (May 2015) covers the challenge of devising, developing, and implementing a transformational customer experience for a brand. As is typical, upending long-standing processes entrenched employees have created and used to build successful careers stirs up significant resistance.

There’s something atypical about the situation described in, “The Messy Business of Reinventing Happiness,” though. The story plays out inside a major division of a corporation whose R&D staff members are known by the seemingly change-embracing title of “Imagineers!”

Yes, even Disney faces innovation-related change management issues.

Disney-Castle-LeungChoPan

Photo by: Leung Cho Pan via Canva

Realities of Dramatic Change

We recommend reading business magazine case studies with skepticism. The article on the $1 billion Disney investment in MyMagic+, which PROMISES to remake the guest experience at Disney parks, however, rings true. It addresses innovation and change management twists and turns comparable articles often neglect.

We’re highlighting quotes from Fast Company that represent issues most brands face during periods of significant change. Each reinforces important innovation and change management principles.

1. Don’t Look Only Inside and Expect Breakthrough Thinking

Quote: “Flipping through a SkyMall catalog, he (John Padgett, VP of business development) landed on a page featuring the Trion:Z, a magnetic wristband that promised to reduce muscle soreness while simultaneously improving one’s golf swing. The team started to consider whether Disney could create an electronic band that could digitally carry everything a guest might need.”

Situation: Metrics on guest expectations for returning to Disney World were declining. The culprits were high ticket prices, protracted wait times, and a variety of other inconveniences. While guests were identifying significant issues, they couldn’t describe the fixes. Additionally, management team members wedded to the reality of current systems often aren’t able to see breakthrough remedies either.

The MagicBand bracelet, the central piece of the Disney Next Generation Experience (NGE) project, addresses multiple functions, including serving as a digital ticket, money, ride photo organizer, and coupon holder. It also shares information helping dynamically manage the guest experience.

Principle: Your business breakthrough could be what’s new (or even traditional) in another industry. Innovators must continually scan outside inspirations from unlikely places and industries.

2. Knowing “What Matters” Is Vital to Innovation

Quote: “This kind of traffic management wouldn’t just be a service to customers – it could also help Disney fit more guests inside its parks.”

Situation: From an initial visit to the Disney World parks decades ago, one thing was apparent. Nearly everything in the Disney customer experience strategy links to how it keeps guests in the parks for more hours each day for as many days as possible.

Pricing (relatively expensive soft drinks, inexpensive rain slickers plus multi-day pricing packages tied to the number of hotel stay days), access policies (on-property guests receiving preferential early park access), managing time expectations (starting ride experiences many minutes before actually reaching the actual ride), and service niceties (transporting purchases to your hotel room) all made sense for keeping you IN THE PARK longer.

Principle: Even amid dramatic innovation, certain aspects of an organization’s underlying business model may remain sound. Successful innovation strategies benefit from starting with a clear understanding of what needs changing and what needs reinforcement.

3. Not Every Group Thinks the Same Things Matter

Quote: “’You had operations pushback, security and fraud pushback, creative pushback.’ They faced opposition from a powerful corporate force: Disney’s Imagineers…Imagineers argued that the uniformity of the access points (where MagicBands were to be scanned) would disrupt the spirit of their uniquely stylized attractions.”

Situation: Despite the importance of maximizing guest time in the parks, other views of “what matters” exist within Disney. For Imagineers, what matters is immersing park guests in another world of delight that brings them back multiple times. When seamless immersion is “what matters,” even innovative ideas that might disrupt a guest’s experience or could grow stale quickly deteriorate what they are trying to create. Trendy change isn’t good; it’s seen, in fact, as dangerous.

Principle: While a company with a strong strategy creates understanding of its strategy throughout the company, “what matters” DOES differ as multiple levels and parts of the organization implement it. The internal tension in determining the best combination of initiatives to bring the overall strategy to life is why strategy setting isn’t a one-time endeavor. Strategy is lived out daily and employees need support in interpreting and shaping it.

4. Bring Innovation to Life As Soon as Possible

Quote: “The NGE team built out its advanced R&D lab, or what (Executive VP, Nick) Franklin calls a ‘living blueprint’ that would ‘sell the vision.’ With typical Disney flair, the soundstage became a storyboard brought to life, with a full-scale living room…where the archetypal family would book their Disney vacation…(plus) a flight-arrival stage of the set…the hotel set…(and) mock-ups of the in-park experience.”

Situation: It’s one thing to discuss an innovative concept matter-of-factly. It’s another to share compelling stories about it. It’s off the charts to create an immersive prototype to help strategists, executives, and team members experience and react to the concept. As Disney-knowledgeable sources put it, the “’theater’ of selling an idea is more important than the idea itself.’”

Principle: Most organizations don’t have a movie set to prototype a new concept with an immersive experience. Every organization does, however, have prototyping resources. If the innovation is a new product concept, go to the manufacturing floor to demo it. If you are imagining ways to interact with a B2B customer, mock up the customer’s environment in a meeting room. We saw a trucking company do this to re-create a traffic manager’s office. Suddenly innovation opportunities were readily apparent. – Armada Executive Intelligence

 

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Looking for Ways to Develop a Successful
Innovation Strategy to Grow Your Business?
Brainzooming Has an Answer!

Brainzooming Outside-In Innovation Strategic Thinking Tools eBookBusiness growth can depend on introducing new products and services that resonate more strongly with customers and deliver outstanding value.

Are you prepared to take better advantage of your brand’s customer and market insights to generate innovative product ideas? The right combination of outside perspectives and productive strategic thinking exercises enables your brand to ideate, prioritize, and propel innovative growth.

Download this free, concise ebook to:

  • Identify your organization’s innovation profile
  • Rapidly deploy effective strategic thinking exercises to spur innovation
  • Incorporate market-based perspectives into your innovation strategy in successful ways

Download this FREE ebook to turn ideas into actionable innovation strategies to drive your organization’s comeback!





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Here is a view of strategic options for creating change I identified for a willing but frustrated change maker. The change management options are based on comparing how big the perceived need for dramatically different results is relative to frustration levels with the status quo situation.

Four Strategy Options for Change Management

Creating-Change

Incremental Modifications

When both the level of frustration with the status quo and the perceived need for dramatically different results are low, incremental modifications are in order. With no pressing demands for change, intense efforts to innovate and create change are best applied elsewhere.

Experimentation

If there’s high frustration with the status quo yet no compelling push for change (think dissatisfaction with a process that’s more trouble than it’s worth even though the results are okay), it’s an opportunity to experiment, simplify, streamline, and try new things. These situations are ripe for constant tweaking and learning from both successes and failures.

Creating a Burning Platform

Creating a burning platform is the recommended course of action when results are substandard, but there’s an unwillingness, reluctance, or blindness to make dramatic changes within an organization. It usually calls for a well-crafted mix of facts and emotion to create the burning platform to move people to recognize the need for action and the importance of getting started right away.

Transformation

Total transformation is called for when everyone understands results are way off goal and the current course of action will never close the gap. When put that way, it could seem transformation might be the easiest of the quadrants. That’s hardly the case though, since the stakes are greatest and the response will likely be more complex and multi-faceted than any of the other quadrants.

Do these strategy options for change management hang together for you?

When you’re trying to figure out how to make change happen, how do you go about figuring out your course of action for creating change? – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at [email protected] or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

 

Conquer Fears of Business Innovation!

FREE Download: “7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization’s Innovation Fears”

3d-Cover-Innovation-FearsWhether spoken or unspoken, organizations can send strong messages saying, “If it isn’t broken, don’t screw around with it” in a variety of ways. Such messages make it clear that good things do not await those pushing for innovation involving any significant level of risk.

This free Brainzooming innovation eBook identifies seven typical business innovation fears. For each fear, we highlight strategy options to mitigate the fears and push forward with innovative strategies. We tackle:

  • Whether facts or emotional appeals are ideal to challenge fear of innovation-driven change
  • When it is smart to call attention to even bigger fears to motivate progress
  • Situations where your best strategy is taking business innovation underground

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Last fall, Emma and I saw Beth Comstock, the former vice chair of General Electric and head of its GE Business Innovations unit, keynote at the Inbound conference. Ever since, I’ve been carrying around five quotes of hers pulled from the talk. While the conference featured stronger keynotes, these innovation strategy-focused quotes and action items from Beth Comstock resonated with me.

Quote 1. “Strategy is a story, well-told.”

One Thought: Strategy shouldn’t be complex, jargon-filled, and nonsensical to anyone beyond the top executives. Employees can better implement strategies when they connect in a meaningful way. Stories are a powerful, age-old way to share information, highlight important truths, and teach lessons that move people to understanding and action. Sounds exactly like what you want organizational strategies to do, doesn’t it?

Take Action: Sources differ on what elements a story must include. Yet, to turn your strategy into a story, consider focusing on:

  • The theme that best describes the strategy’s intent
  • Which people are integral to bringing the strategy to life along with who will enjoy its benefits
  • A sense of the steps and movement you will use to implement the strategy
  • Where the strategy will play out
  • A hint of the emotional impact that will accompany its success

Incorporating these five elements will provide a strong start toward making it easier to communicate and act.

Quote 2. “To open communication with someone, start by asking, ‘What is something you need to tell me that I don’t want to hear?'”

One Thought: No matter how accessible executives try to be, employees talk behind their backs. Part of that chatter is about what to never discuss with them. Beth Comstock’s suggestion is intriguing. Unless the people on the other side of the table feel they are on equal footing, though, it will likely take several reiterations for team members to trust this opening.

Take Action: Want to make strides toward opening the way for your team to deliver bad or challenging news? Let them know in a non-threatening setting that you’re going to introduce this question (or something similar) into interactions. Introducing this new communication tactic in a group setting where no one is expected to immediately respond is a positive way to set the stage. It lessens the concern and apprehension that this question could trigger when it’s a surprise without any context.

Quote 3. “When you hear someone tell you, ‘No,’ process it as them saying, ‘Not yet.’ At a minimum, try to sell your ideas three times, but do it a dozen times if the idea warrants it.”

One Thought: Never give up quickly on what’s valuable and important. Perhaps the audience isn’t ready for it now. Maybe you aren’t clearly communicating your idea. The no could contain a valid challenge or contrary view that you need to step back, consider, and incorporate. A negative response might also suggest a new possibility that you have yet to consider.

Take Action: Identify the people you expect will challenge your idea, and the areas where negative responses are likely to arise. Invest time in developing a communications strategy that supports you in selling in your idea. What is your most compelling message? How can you appropriately and honestly adapt it for specific audiences? Who will you approach to help you practice communicating your idea (because any no message will not be a directive to stop)? Finally, every time you pitch your idea, experiment with improving your messaging, to learn what could work to sell it effectively the next time.

Quote 4. “Failure is the F-word of business. If failure isn’t an option, then neither is success.”

One Thought: It’s easy for organizations to say they expect failure. The official message may be that failure is necessary for a successful innovation strategy. Giving that message credibility with employees, so that they will take risks, requires more than talk. It demands clear, consistent, and long-term demonstrations that people who fail (and learn) as they pursue important innovations will not be punished.

Take Action: At your next management meeting, take a few moments to list notable failures from the last twelve-to-eighteen months. Along with each failure, identify the main person associated with it. Note, as objectively as possible, changes in the organization’s perspective on each of the people experiencing failures. How many are viewed more favorably now than before? How many are viewed with greater skepticism? If you aren’t celebrating and advancing the people taking risks and failing, what management actions in the next year will change that and bring new life to your innovation strategy?

Quote 5. “What’s a risk you will give yourself permission to take?”

One Thought: If you’re cheering on others in the organization to embrace risk, make sure you are also taking visible risks.

Take Action: List the risks you took over the last year that made you uncomfortable. How many are there? How uncomfortable did each of them really make you? What are you going to do this year to increase your risk-taking behaviors?

Five Quotes and Do This!

If you are trying to innovate more, and more effectively, marry the messages and the actions that tell the stories and celebrate the successes and failures of those embracing and acting on smart, innovative risks. – Mike Brown

Conquer Fears of Business Innovation!

FREE Download: “7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization’s Innovation Fears”

3d-Cover-Innovation-FearsWhether spoken or unspoken, organizations can send strong messages saying, “If it isn’t broken, don’t screw around with it” in a variety of ways. Such messages make it clear that good things do not await those pushing for an innovation strategy involving any significant level of risk.

This free Brainzooming innovation eBook identifies seven typical business innovation strategy fears. For each fear, we highlight strategy options to mitigate the fears and push forward with innovative strategies. We tackle:

  • Whether facts or emotional appeals are ideal to challenge fear of innovation-driven change
  • When it is smart to call attention to even bigger fears to motivate progress
  • Situations where your best strategy is taking business innovation underground

Download your FREE copy of 7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization’s Innovation Fears today!

Download Your FREE eBook! 7 Strategies to Conquer Your Organization's Innovation Fears

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